Monday, July 12, 2010


Defense of Marriage Act Gets an Annulment

By Rod Pennington

Since President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 the clock has been ticking for it to be overturned. DOMA gave the federal government the right to overlook a state sanctioned same-sex marriage and deny the couples the rights and privileges such a union would infer. Many legal scholars felt it was a constitutional challenge just waiting to happen. The only surprising thing, with several states having already passed same-sex marriage laws, is that it has taken this long.

In Boston, Federal Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled DOMA violates the Constitutional rights of married same-sex couples to equal protection under the law. Since the federal government had a long history of allowing states to set their own marriage laws, Judge Tauro felt this was an overreach.

In his ruling Judge Tauro stated, “This court has determined that it is clearly within the authority of the Commonwealth (Massachusetts) to recognize same-sex marriages among its residents, and to afford those individuals in same-sex marriages any benefits, rights, and privileges to which they are entitled by virtue of their marital status.” Tauro continued, “The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state.”

Tauro waxed eloquently on the long history of state’s rights, concluding that since the very inception of our county the definition of what constitutes a marriage is “such an essential element of state power.”

As would be expected gay rights activists cheered the ruling, saying it affirmed that same-sex couples are entitled to the same protection under the law. Attorney General Martha Coakley, famous for losing the “Kennedy” US Senate seat this past January to Republican Scott Brown (R-MA), brought the suit challenging the law, also applauded the ruling.

“Today’s landmark decision is an important step toward achieving equality for all married couples in Massachusetts and assuring that all of our citizens enjoy the same rights and protections under our Constitution.” Coakley also said in her statement. “It is unconstitutional for the federal government to discriminate, as it does because of DOMA’s restrictive definition of marriage. It is also unconstitutional for the federal government to decide who is married and to create a system of first- and second-class marriages.”

There will be the expected uproar of “pro-family” defenders of DOMA. They will shout this is judicial activism at its worst and a perfect example of a judge legislating from the bench. It is neither.

DOMA was passed and signed into law just 2 months before the 1996 election. The timing was no accident. It received broad bi-partisan support and gave political cover, mostly to Democrats, to let them be on record as “pro-family” and kept them from being branded as “pro-gay.” Everyone involved in the bill knew it would not pass muster of a Supreme Court challenge so it was mostly political theater Washington is so fond of.

The irony here, the same folks who protested the loudest when the federal government imposed things upon the states like school busing, 55 MPH speed limits, American with Disabilities act provisions, etc. are now born again big government advocates. You have to wonder how they will feel if Arizona’s new Immigration Law is upheld for roughly the same reason DOMA was overturned.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lindsey Graham is an embarrassment to SC

Lindsey Graham is John McCain Lite

By Rod Pennington

South Carolina’s Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is fast becoming the mainstream media’s new favorite Republican. With Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in an unexpectedly tough primary fight, McCain has had to tack hard to the right. This means, the “Maverick” will have to pretend for the next 4 months that he shares at least a few Republican values. It’s a tough job, but McCain should be up to the challenge.

Senator Lindsey Graham pointing out to Senator John McCain the next Republican they were going to disappoint

With conservative and former congressman J.D. Hayworth breathing down his neck, McCain’s reversal on immigration reform has been enough to cause whiplash. He went from the front man on amnesty to Mr. “Just Build the Damn Fence” faster than the airbags could deploy. Not to worry. After the polls close on November 2nd he can revert back to his old habit of pulling the rug out from under Republicans.

For the past decade or so Graham has been Commander Riker to McCain’s Captain Picard on the USS Bi-Partisanship. For some reason and no matter how many times they have gotten bitten by the Democrats, both keep “reaching across the aisle.” This has made the pair darlings of the Washington elite media and each has gotten hooked on the ego stroking that comes with it.

In 2005 the Republicans held the Senate and the White House and Democrats were filibustering everything that moved. When then Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) proposed the “Nuclear Option” of not allowing filibusters on judicial nominees and giving them a straight up or down vote, Graham and McCain both had the vapors. The quickly formed the “Gang of 14” and “saved” the integrity of the great deliberative body.

From closing Gitmo, to stopping “torture” of terrorists, to “comprehensive” immigration reform, to bad mouthing the Tea Party movement, the mainstream media can always count on Lindsey for a quote. There was a bit of concern when Graham showed some spine recently. He got miffed when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) knifed him by having the nerve to move other legislation ahead of his. In a snit, he pulled his name off of the Kerry, Liebermann and Graham bill to tax the daylights out of anything that used energy bill. The Democrats aren’t too worried. They know if push comes to shove they can count on Graham’s loyalty.

Poor Lindsey probably hasn’t figured out yet that he is just a seat warmer for the long time darling of the media, John McCain. While Graham has been sticking his thumb in the eye of fellow Republicans for years, McCain has been doing it for decades. After the Maverick pulls the wool over the eyes of the good folks in Arizona in November with cooing words of conservatism, he’ll jet back to Washington and return to his old form. The press will be there waiting; probably with balloons and a cake.

Graham, who doesn’t have to face the voters of South Carolina again until 2014, can continue to put “whoopee” cushions on the seats of fellow Republicans. He can be secure in the knowledge, at least until November when McCain will be back; that he will be the first Republican all the networks will call to star on their Sunday talk shows.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Nice Article about Charleston

Oil Spill Tourists Flocking to Charleston

By Rod Pennington

Apparently from Galveston to Tampa the beaches are not as crowded as usual this Fourth of July weekend. Something about the image of oil-soaked pelicans and the live internet feed of crude gushing underwater a few miles off shore has caused the Gulf coast to lose some of it’s charm.

Sullivan's Island, just outside Charleston, SC

Where have all of these sun-seekers gone? Many, apparently, have headed to South Carolina. We were on Sullivan’s Island on Saturday and the beach there hadn’t seen this much action since Hurricane Hugo came ashore in 1989. Normally Folly Beach, on the other side of the mouth to Charleston harbor, is the area packed with tourists this time of year.

Sullivan’s Island, a quiet bedroom community, while not it’s rich cousin of Kiawah a few miles south in Charleston county, still requires a check starting with a “3” followed by six zeros to buy oceanfront. Usually Sullivan’s is where the locals head at the height of tourist season to avoid the crowds. Not this year.

Living in an area on nearly everyone’s list of top ten tourist destinations in America, the folks in Charleston are used to a few visitors. This year, however, they haven’t seen this many Yankees since General William Tecumseh Sherman arrived with the Union Army for spring break in 1865.

USS Yorktown with the Revenel Bridge in the background.

The Historic District is packed. There are so many people on the USS Yorktown at Patriot’s Point it is starting to list. A good tee time or tables at any of Charleston’s outstanding restaurants, forget about it.

Many of the folks prowling the streets are obviously first time visitors. They are easy to spot. They send the entire day walking around the “South of Broad” historic district with their mouths open. With so many antebellum mansions, most with historical markers on their street side wall, it can be overwhelming for a Charleston Rookie, particularly this time of year.

Middleton Place

With the Spoleto Festival just over, all of the gardens, particularly those partially hidden behind stone walls in the historic district, are at their peak. The amazing plantations a few miles up the Ashley River from downtown Charleston are busy as well. Drayton Hall, one of the few southern plantations to survive the Civil War intact, was built before the American Revolution. Middleton Place – where they filmed the movie “The Patriot” – is considered one of the world’s great botanical treasures.

Drayton Hall

After a few soft tourist seasons it is nice to see the local shops and restaurants busy. Y’all come on down. Eat some shrimp and grits and snack on a few benne wafers. Maybe, if you’re nice, those ladies weaving the sweetgrass baskets on Market Street will teach you a few words of Gullah.

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